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Phillip Rukavina | Dutch Light: The Lute Music of Nicolas Vallet

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Classical: Early Music World: Western European Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Dutch Light: The Lute Music of Nicolas Vallet

by Phillip Rukavina

Nicolas Vallet (c.1583 – c.1642) was a French lutenist and composer. The music on this recording is taken entirely from his two volumes of "Secret s of the Muses" (1615 and 1616). Included is dance music as well as fantasies for 10-course lute solo.
Genre: Classical: Early Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Prelude
1:55 $0.99
2. Ballet 2
1:36 $0.99
3. Branle de la Royne
4:06 $0.99
4. Pavanne en forme de complainte
3:41 $0.99
5. Volte de la complainte
2:00 $0.99
6. Onder de Lindegröen
1:47 $0.99
7. Mal Simms
1:20 $0.99
8. Galliard Angolise
0:32 $0.99
9. Reprinse
0:45 $0.99
10. Courante sur la Gailliarde De Bocquet
2:13 $0.99
11. Courante de Mars
1:47 $0.99
12. Courante 16
2:00 $0.99
13. Courante 18
1:51 $0.99
14. La Mendiante fantasye
3:59 $0.99
15. Pavanne d’Espagne
2:06 $0.99
16. Volte 5
0:43 $0.99
17. Bouree
0:47 $0.99
18. Bouree II
0:41 $0.99
19. La Maturine
1:31 $0.99
20. Carillion de village
2:27 $0.99
21. Passemeze d’Italye
3:47 $0.99
22. Gailliarde de Passemeze
0:54 $0.99
23. Galliarde 2
1:45 $0.99
24. La courante sarabande
1:04 $0.99
25. Galliarde 3
2:31 $0.99
26. Passemeze pour bequare
3:56 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Nicolas Vallet (c. 1583 – c. 1642) was a French lutenist and composer. He was born at Corbeny, Aisne but fled from France to the Netherlands for religious reasons. Because of the relative freedoms the Dutch Republic allowed its citizens in the early 17th century, the city of Amsterdam had become a haven for those dispossessed as a result of religious beliefs contrary to those of their home countries. Vallet, a Huguenot, was unwelcome in predominantly Catholic France, while others came to Amsterdam to escape persecution for their Catholic faith under the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I in England. As a result, musical composition in Amsterdam became a curious mix of English and Continental (mostly French) musical styles. I say “curious” because, at this time, the Baroque style had become a strong aspect of French, and therefore Dutch style, while English music was still strongly couched in Renaissance style. Like the Dutch language itself, the music can sound surprisingly English and yet is clearly very Continental at its root.
With the relative absence of royal or other aristocratic patronage in the Dutch Republic, musicians bore significant challenges for employment. The patronage system, where most professional European musicians were employed by wealthy households didn’t exist widely for Dutch musicians and so they were denied a significant source of employment and income. Like most lutenists today, Vallet and had to pursue his career as a professional lutenist performing at parties, weddings, and the like. In addition to his work as a performing lutenist, Vallet was a lute-teacher, composer/publisher, and the co-owner of a dance school.
Much of what we know about the life of Nicolas Vallet comes as a result of his involvement with his professional lute ensemble working in and around Amsterdam in the early years of the 17th century. Vallet’s abilities as a businessman and as the director of a lute ensemble is relatively well documented through the written contracts he held with his fellow ensemble lutenists who, incidentally, were all English-born. These contracts have a quite modern feel about them with paragraphs dealing with the payment of fees, penalties for absence from performances, and even provisions for shared health care, and the like.
Vallet also earned income through his music publications, costly ventures which were paid for by Vallet himself. His primary published work, Le Secret des Muses, also known as Secretum musarum in its Latin version, contains numerous secular compositions as well as instructions for playing them on the 10-course lute. It was published in two volumes in 1615 and 1616.
The music on this recording is taken entirely from these two volumes and features a wide variety of compositional forms familiar from the time, including the prelude, fantasy, carillon, bransle, courante, passemezzo, volta, gailliarde, ballet, and well-known tunes set into counterpoint on the lute. Most of the works are dances and the majority of these are courantes. As the courante was all the rage as a dance form in early 17th century France and in the Netherlands, these were no doubt quite helpful for use in Vallet’s dance studio.
As was the custom with French music of this era, many of Vallet’s titles contain additional information which hint at further connections. Some of these allude to aspects of the musical structure, such as his La Courante Sarabande (24), while others are dedicatory in nature, such as Courante sur la gailliarde de Bocquet (10) which notes the earlier piece on which Vallet based his composition. Others still refer to emotional states of mind. Pavanne en forme de complainte (4) and his Volte de la complainte (5) are two such examples. Several pieces on this recording are more familiar in other settings, such as the famous song tune Onder de Lindegröne (6), better known English speakers as All in a Garden Green. The well-known English melody Mall Simms (7), while not a ballad tune, it was well represented on the continent.
Although his music is, in general, less dramatic than that of his great contemporary English lutenist, John Dowland, Vallet’s La Mendiante Fantasye (14) comes very close, to matching several of Dowland’s fantasies, both in musical intensity and length.
It is difficult not to think of Vallet’s contemporaries, such as Emanuel Adriaenssen and Joachim van den Hove, when listening to Vallet’s music. Along with these musical giants, he was one of the most important figures in Netherlandish lute music at the time of the great Dutch keyboardist, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. Vallet’s variations on popular tunes often call to mind Sweelinck’s keyboard works, several arrangements of which I recently had the pleasure of recording with my ensemble, the Venere Lute Quartet, on our recent CD titled, “Airy Entertainments.”
Alas, things were not to end so well for Nicolas Vallet. As with countless musicians over the centuries, Vallet died penniless. The last known reference to Nicolas Vallet, on 30 April 1633, makes it clear that he had been forced to, “give up all claim to his possessions, furniture and clothing because he was unable to pay his rent.”



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